Vets graduate from Fort Myers PGA program

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – It’s Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, Maine, and Wisconsin. Here in Southwest Florida, the South Florida PGA Foundation is also honoring the men and women who defend our country. It’s graduation day for the PGA HOPE Program.

HOPE stands for “Helping Our Patriots Everywhere.” Over the past six weeks at Alico Family Golf in Fort Myers, 15 military veterans have learned about the game of golf through free instruction from five PGA Professionals. The program is designed to enhance the veterans’ rehabilitation and assimilation back into society. The graduation ceremony featured the veterans playing a tournament on Alico Family Golf’s short course, followed by a cookout.

“It really builds some camaraderie and you’re with a bunch of guys that have been through and seen a lot of things that other people, most people, haven’t, and we’ve got kind of a kinship already,” said Steve Kirtley, a Marine Corps veteran.

The South Florida PGA Foundation started PGA HOPE in December 2015. Since then, more than 120 veterans have been introduced to the sport. In addition to Alico Family Golf, Coral Oaks Golf Club in Cape Coral, the John Prince Learning Center in Lake Worth, and First Tee of Miami will also host PGA HOPE programs this spring.

“This is my way of giving back now. I love veterans of this country. I want to do as much as I can to show my appreciation and give back to them for their honorable service,” said Brian Yarusevich, PGA professional.